Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Au Duc de Montmorency - an old school piece of Paris on your doorstep

It's hard to believe that since we started renting out the Great Apartment in October 2008, I haven't written about the Duc de Montmorency (the restaurant, not the man). It's on the ground floor of our building, and you often get wafts of what's being made for lunch when you walk up the stairs to the apartment.

When we first bought our place, Laurent - the owner and chef - was one of the first people to welcome us. He's cheery and honest, and we soon set up a system whereby people who book with us can also book a meal upon arrival. Laurent prepares it (full meal, dessert, cheese, drinks...) and we take up to the apartment and put it in the fridge. If you're getting in late, it's a great option and not expensive.

Laurent used to run the Nicolas Flamel restaurant just over the road (in the oldest building in Paris, built in 1407! Must get there sometime too...) and took over the Duc de Montmorency around ten years ago. The place actually belongs to the woman who sold us our apartment.It belonged to her parents before her and she was born in the room just above the shop. They bought it before the war and eventually made two shops into one, becoming the first mini department store in the city.

Legend has it that you could find anything there, from vegetables, to screwdrivers, to coal. It's been a restaurant for a long time now, but Laurent has kept some of the old school features and added some quirky twists. There are few places like it in the city.

People go there for the ambiance for a start. At lunchtime there's a gentle hubbub and relaxed atmosphere that will put you at ease and transport you back to a time when Parisians chatted to each other, shared tables, looked after each other. They also go there because the food is tasty, changes every day and is really very reasonably priced. There's always a great selection of salads and tarts available, and everything is cooked on the premises.

Yep, that says "Main course, dessert and coffee - 10.40€". Unbeatable! Many people go there as a cheap,healthieralternative to getting a sandwich. Proper home-cooked meals at that price are hard to come by in the centre of town. There's also an atmosphere to the place that many enjoy. They have free wi-fi (we have that too of course) and a huge selection of beers from around the world, plus some funky object on some of the shelves that make the décor unique!

If you want of taste of how Paris was in years gone by, the Duc De Montmorency would be a good place to start. And the food's good. And Laurent's sweet. Check 'em out!

Au Duc de Montmorency is open all day from early until about 7pm. They have a slightly freaky website ( that's all in French and looks like it was made in 1993, so be prepared. ;-)

Fun fact: the last Duke of Montmorency died in 1951 (the title is no longer given) and his name was (take a deep breath) Napoléon Louis Eugène Alexandre Anne Emmanuel de Talleyrand-Périgord!